I suffer from depression. I have on and off for many years. That’s not to say I live in a perpetual state of doom and gloom, because I have had many years where I feel fine, great even. But now isn’t one of them.
This blog isn’t about why the black dog or ugly beast as I find a more appropriate term has entered my life and shows no signs of leaving. Anyone who reads my blog or knows me, probably understands the many triggers for my darkness at this time. No this is my attempt to explain depression to those who may have never experienced it before. I thought writing while I felt really low might help others understand that it’s a true illness just like any physical ailment. But unlike an acute physical affliction, depression can be hidden and often misunderstood. So here’s my experience.
I’m presently sitting in a rather dark room. Yes, there’s a light next to me which I can just easily lean over and switch on, but the greyness of the room feels more appropriate to my mood. Sometimes (and I know those who have never suffered from depression may not understand), but going through the process is therapeutic. I can’t tell you the enormous energy it takes to pretend you feel fine to the outside world. I’m alone right now, so I don’t have to feign normality to anyone just now.
Let me just say, I am not suicidal. So please don’t worry about that. In fact even at my darkest times I have never planned my ultimate exit. I understand enough about depression and suicide to reach out for help long before I ever get to that stage. But that doesn’t mean my illness doesn’t have a major impact on my life. Today for example, I don’t even have the interest or energy to fix myself something to eat. It’s nearly 3:00pm here and I haven’t eaten today. I faintly feel a pang in my stomach but my silly mind won’t allow me to get off the sofa.
And before anyone wonders, yes I am taking anti-depressants. Escitalopram, to be exact. Does it help? I suppose it keeps the anxiety at bay, but to be honest I have been on it for so long, I’m not sure what it’s supposed to be doing any longer. No doubt if I discussed it with my GP and told her I was still sad, she’d probably just up my dosage. We live in a medicate the problem culture. That’s the reality.
Yes, I have been to therapy. More years than I care to admit. My first shrink visit was when I was 19. I’m now 49, so I can safely say in my situation, discussing my problems isn’t necessarily a magic cure. Sure it helps, and I have had some fantastic therapists over the years. But it’s more like the pills, it keeps the ugly beast down but never fully eradicates it.
I guess my point of writing this (as if I am supposed to have one), is that some of us in society get depressed. Not just the random, I feel a bit blue today. But an illness that permeates every aspect of our lives. I want those around us to try to understand that it’s a genuine illness and not something we can just decide to snap out of. Yes, there are pills we can take, experts to talk to, groups we can join. But please try to understand, it doesn’t always help. Sometimes it consumes us, no matter how much we know there are people who love us and would do anything for us.
This is just my personal experience of depression. I understand everyone who has this disease is impacted differently. I just want those who may find it baffling that we aren’t really different. We just experience the world differently.
For me, my son is my light. He keeps me going, even when I don’t have the energy to get out of bed. He makes me laugh. I love him with all my heart. And he’s the reason I still battle the ugly beast with all the tools I have.
So please don’t worry about me, just try to understand me. Me and the millions of others who suffer as well. If we can all recognise the ugly beast, perhaps one day the beast will become extinct.
featured image Depression